Monday, January 14, 2008

Lib Dem civil war warning

I can't see how any honest Lib Dem can really put up with their policies be changed over night in an Orange coup d'etat by Nick Clegg.

Listen carefully and you should be able to hear the knives sharpening ... of course its always hard to stab a Lib Dem in the back as they are usually facing both ways. But its not impossible just ask Charlie Kennedy and Ming. ( And of course Blair managed to knife the naive Ashdown about a decade ago ).

If I was Nick Clegg I'd be trying to figure out how to cancel the party conference in the Summer...

Having said all that I approve of Nick Clegg's attempts at giving a coherent policy lead - especially as its to the right - I just don't think he's chosen a party that wants to be lead.

PS You can tell the BBC disapproves by the photo they chosen of him for his economic liberalism speech !


UK Daily Pundit said...

That's editing at the BBC for you. Ugly photos for bad ideas and smiley photos for good ones.

Norfolk Blogger said...

A know the Tories don't like it but there simply is no internal rift. All wings of the party have liked what Nick has to say. My guess is he will enjoy conference season.

Anonymous said...

"I can't see how any honest Lib Dem can really put up with their policies be changed over night in an Orange coup d'etat by Nick Clegg."

Why not? We honestly are all Orange Book Liberals now.

Man in a Shed said...

Nick - I guess its only in the Liberal democrats that all wings of any party could think they've heard what they like at the same time !

The way I see it there are two possibilities:

1) The Lib Dems have no strong principles - therefore don't object when they change each morning as long as the sport of politics can still be played.
2) Some people are lying.

But well see in time which is true.

Right now things just don't add up - however happy and clappy the Lib Dem followers are right now.

Don't get me wrong - I approve of what Nick Clegg is doing - I just find it hard to believe that in all honesty a large amount of the Lib Dem party does.

Anonymous said...

Would you believe if I told you that there has always been a substantial number of Liberal Democrats who have been both economically and socially liberal, and who have been a bit disappointed to their party's economic policies, but stayed because they've thought that there's no other party with any better policies (Conservatives having been too socially conservative and Labour too economically socialist) and because of the history of the party they have been waiting for a rain after a long drought, a rain which Clegg seems to have brought with him. It also seems that an increasing share of the new members is beside socially, also economically liberal.

Man in a Shed said...

Anon 11.21: Yes I'd believe you, however that doesn't take away the fact that a sizeable proportion of the party must hate what's going on. ( The SDP - Charles Kennedy supporting half ).

Around my home the Lib Dems draw a lot of support from civil servants etc - none of whom will prosper under economic liberalism.

There must be a day of reckoning at some point ( if only a show event like clause 4 ).

There will also be a major political realignment as the Lib Dems have mostly competing against the Conservatives for their seats by playing the left wing squeeze tactic. Putting yourselves to the right of the Conservative party is unlikely to win you new votes fast - especially if you continue to support the EU super state, but it will haemorrhage the soft left - green - guardianista vote. ( Of course if its what you now believe you should stand by it - regardless of the support it achieves in the short term. )

On the upside it potential represents an important realignment of English politics. As I've said else where this will make you potentially the true sons and daughters of Lady Thatcher.

Anonymous said...

As Jo Grimond told in his book "The Future of Liberalism" (1980), The state owned monopolies are among the greatest millstones round the neck of the economy ... Liberals must stress at all times the virtues of the market, not only for efficiency but to enable the widest possible choice ... Much of what Mrs Thatcher and Sir Keith Joseph say and do is in the mainstream of liberal philosophy.

However, if these days there exists a division within Liberal Democrats, that doesn't follow the old Liberal Party - SDP - division. First, many of the current members have joined after the merger. Second, many of the former SDP members (Vince Cable, Chris Huhne, Mark Oaten and Robert Smith, for instance) are all both socially and economically liberal (though Huhne tried to distance himself from economic liberalism in his leadership campaign, but those who know him better told that wasn't very characteristic for him), whereas some of the former Liberal Party members (like Tim Farron, Simon Hughes, John Pugh, Paul Rowen and Adrian Sanders) are considered to be less economically liberal.

However, the division shouldn't be exagerated, it's not deeper than in other parties. David Cameron's new initiatives weren't all welcomed by some Conservative Party members, untill the poll ratings improved. I expect there won't be a mutiny within Lib Dems either, unless the poll ratings will drop.

Man in a Shed said...

Anon - I think you'll find the Conservative party refused to be moved on certain key issues. It was David Cameron who moved, and his recovery came with traditional Conservative policies such as tax cutting and personal responsibility - along with one of the most gutsy speeches ever delivered at a party conference. In short the party has prevailed on core principles, but allowed itself to be lead on tactical issues.

And that is as it should be, it shows depth and conviction.

My question is where is this in the Lib Dems - if you have it then you are due for a mighty internal argument - if not then all will be quiet and people will be - how can I put this - flexible. But if you are just flexible how can you be trusted ?

I think Charles Kennedy - who could yet be your leader again and Ming Campbell are clearly to the left. Charles is maybe left of Labour.

Vince Cable's calls for nationalisation of Northern Rock aren't showing economic liberalism. The BBC clearly like him - which is why he gets on the radio/TV far more than say the far better qualified John Redwood. And if the BBC like him we can be sure they see him as to the left.

Over the last 20 years it has been very clear that the Lib Dems are the backup girlfriend of the Labour party. The tactical voting of the 1990's demonstrates the common cause.

Nearly all the Lib Dem spokespersons I see or hear are always far more happy attacking Conservative positions than Labour - even though Labour are in Government (until perhaps Labour started its idiotic detention without trial campaign), yet now your trying to tell me you've been with us on the economy all the time. I just find that hard to believe.

Time will of course tell.

Anonymous said...

"I think Charles Kennedy - who could yet be your leader again and Ming Campbell are clearly to the left."

That seems to be a common fallacy about Ming among the non-Lib Dems. However, during his leadership Liberal Democrats made several small steps towards market friendly policies, like giving up the 50% top tax rate and suggesting to raise the threshold at which estates start to pay Inheritance Tax (and that was before the IT initiatives of Conservatives and Labour). Actually, Ming has been considered to be to the "right" (though of course he wouldn't self admit that), as you can read for instance from this and this article.

Man in a Shed said...

Anon 9.02 - thanks for your comment and links. I see what you mean.

Ming Campbell will always have been seen as being to the right in defence, and I do remember him getting the measures on the post office through.

But equally the Guardian eludes to a battle with the Lib Dems left. And the choice of whether to compete with the Conservatives on the right or Labour on the left, with a backlash if they move right.

I can also remember Ming as someone whom always seemed happier criticising Conservatives than Labour. 99 out of 100 epople would have expected Ming to prop up his friend Brown in government rather than support Cameron.

But who knows with Nick Clegg ?

The underlying issue is still who decides what a party believes in - its members or its leader.

The Labour party is a virtual dictatorship, with its devotees waking up each morning to discover what they believe in.

The Conservative party needs to be lead, as local association and its greater wealth of talent are never going to be told what to think. they may humour the leader, allow him/her to persuade but never dictate. Thats because we are free thinking people with principles.

But what of the Lib Dems ? No very long ago they were considered to the left of Labour. Now how can they move to the right of the conservatives if their membership isn't like Labours ?